An interesting article from KTVH in Helena, Montana USA, but one that has implications for law enforcement across the USA
This report focuses on proposed legislation that deals with 'incentivized witnesses’ and protections that need to be put into place for the accused. This article does not intend to go into and in depth discussion of the legislation. However, on reading the report one can see that the police officer comments that legislation will make it impossible top protect the identity of confidential informants.
We have previously addressed the issue of the need for separation between witnesses and confidential informants (See blog October 2018 below).
Where a person is testifying in court ‘the innocence at stake principle’ will come in to play and this overrides ‘informant privilege’. . Where a witness has motives to lie in their testimony for example a lighter sentence of financial reward any lawyer is going to want to cross examine that witness and it is going to be very obvious to all involved in the case who the witness is.
Law enforcement agencies should stop using the term confidential informant for someone who is a witness. -it just confuses everyone. Officers involved in managing confidential informants need to have an in depth knowledge of the informant privilege legislation. This should be part of the training, prior to them being allowed to manage informants. Law enforcement agencies need to have in place structures and procedures that distinguish between what is a confidential informant and a person who is going to be a witness.